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  1. #1
    sumon.'s Avatar
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    Question A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense

    I am not sure whether I am right . But, I think most of the native speakers trend to use past indefinite tense rather than present perfect tense. Some examples would be,
    # I locked the car.(just after locking the car and entering the room. probably , he said to his wife )

    #Jack kissed a girl! ( Jack's brother Coddy told his mother after winning a match.)

    #Our little baby made a doo-doo! ( just after ..........)
    Another wonderful example would be , # " B" explained the meaning.(Just after explaining the meaning .)
    I want to know curiously , Do we have the independence in the English language to use past indefinite tense , avoiding present perfect tense ?

    Need detailed explanation(pls)

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by sumon.; 16-Dec-2011 at 17:52. Reason: "his" instead of "her"

  2. #2
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense

    [QUOTE=sumon.;833382]I am not sure whether I am right . But, I think most of the native speakers trend to use past indefinite tense rather than present perfect tense.


    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) I think that you are definitely correct (certainly in American English).

    (2) The example that I always cite:

    Tom: How was the movie you saw last night?

    Mona: Wow! That was the best movie that I ever saw!

    (3) You asked for a detailed explanation. Of course, I shall leave that to our

    excellent teachers. I also want to know.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense

    We use the past simple in BrE when we are distancing something in time.We use the present perfect when the action begun (at least) in the past has some relevance to the present time.

    There situations which speakers may view in different ways.

    I have written to George ( so now I can relax).
    I wrote to George
    (just after you asked me to).


    There are times when only one form is natural:
    I arrived in Prague 13 years ago. (1998)
    I
    have lived in Prague for 12 years. (1998 to the present)
    I
    lived in Stuttgart from 1972 to 1974.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense

    I don't know why It happens to me.It seems that most of the sentences in the simple past tense have some relevance to the present time if we think like that.(without histories and events that happened in the past)

    Our little baby made a doo-doo!( so she is to clean it)

    I locked the car(so the car is safe now and you do not need to worry)


    Jack kissed a girl!(but still he can feel it)

    You made it ( so, now we are happy for your success)

    I wrote to George( so why you have not got it yet or why you did not get it yet)

    So, what should I do? Do I have to use present perfect tense ? But , about all of the sentences written above, have been taken from the sources where native speakers used in past tense....
    Last edited by sumon.; 01-Mar-2012 at 07:50. Reason: the

  5. #5
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    Default Re: A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense

    If speakers wishes to relate a past situation to the present, they use a present perfect. If they wish to view the situation as clearly located in the past, they use a past tense. There is rarely a 'have to', though sometimes context and/or co-text make only one possible, as I showed with the examples in my first response.

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    Default Re: A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense

    Quote Originally Posted by sumon. View Post
    So, what should I do? Do I have to use present perfect tense ? But , about all the of sentences written above, have been taken from the sources where native speakers used in past tense....
    You should use whichever tense seems to feel right to you. When people start misunderstanding you, think of changing. If you ever move countries, to say, Australia, or Britain, your "natural tendency" might change.

    "What to do?" depends on your immediate problem. Are you missing out on jobs because your "natural tendency" doesn't accord with your interviewers? I can understand that you'd want your baby growing up in an environment in which the best English possible is spoken, but most children are good at avoiding their parents verbal idiosyncracies when they get a little older.
    In short, I wouldn't worry too much about it if I were you.
    Last edited by Raymott; 17-Dec-2011 at 19:54. Reason: typo

  7. #7
    sumon.'s Avatar
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    Red face Re: A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post

    "What to do?" depends on your immediate problem. Are you missing out on jobs because your "natural tendency" doesn't accord with your interviewers? I can understand that you'd want your baby growing up in an environment in which the best English possible is spoken, but most children are good at avoiding their parents verbal idiosyncracies when they get a little older.
    In short, I wouldn't worry too much about it if I were you.
    Thank you very much.

    No ,I am a student and I am taking an honours degree at this moment .(1st year)
    Though my department is English in the faculty of Human Affairs and social science, my
    English is not as good as I want . Mistakes and mistakes! However , I am learning from mistakes .. Thanks again, this forum is helping us a lot .
    Last edited by sumon.; 17-Dec-2011 at 12:20. Reason: an instead of my

  8. #8
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    Default Re: A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense

    [QUOTE=sumon.;833536]I don't know why It happens to me.It seems that most of the sentences in the simple past tense have some relevance to the present time if we think like that.(without histories and events that happened in the past)


    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) I have found something that might shine a little light on this extremely

    diificult matter.

    (2) According to one expert:

    (a) They just arrived. = They just arrived -- about ten minutes ago.

    (b) They have just arrived. = They are here now.

    (3) This expert says that 2a "tends to shift the action a little more into the past

    and disassociate it from the present."

    (4) This expert says that 2b "lays emphasis on the effects at the present moment."


    Source: Robert J. Dixson, Practice Exercises in Everyday English for Advanced Foreign Students, Regents Publishing Company, Inc., 1957, page 102.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense


  10. #10
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    Default Re: A natural tendency to use past indefinite tense

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    (2) According to one expert:

    (a) They just arrived. = They just arrived -- about ten minutes ago.
    (b) They have just arrived. = They are here now.

    (3) This expert says that 2a "tends to shift the action a little more into the past and disassociate it from the present."
    (4) This expert says that 2b "lays emphasis on the effects at the present moment."
    Dixson may have his reasons for saying this, but my personal experience suggests a different situation. Few speakers that I have met use the present perfect and the past simple with 'just' in the way Dixson suggests. Some speakers, including most speakers of AmE I have met, use 'just' to denote 'a very short time ago'. No matter how short the time period is before the present, they view an action happening at the beginning of that time period as a past-time event, and use the past simple. Other speakers, including most speakers of BrE, use 'just' to denote 'such a short time ago, that any action occurring then inevitably affects the present moment'.
    Thus, if someone arrived at work fiveminutes ago, my American colleagues tend to say, 'He just arrived', and my British colleagues, 'He's just arrived'.

    How short a short period has to be to allow 'just' to be used appears to depend on the event, and how recent a 'recent event' might be considered to be. It seems to me that 'he('s) just arrived' is possible only within a small number of minutes after his arrival, while 'He('s) just moved to a new job in Phoenix' might be possible for a number of days after the move.

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